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Re: [xmca] Taking culture into account/Doing harm?

On 23 July 2012 17:29, Michael Glassman <MGlassman@ehe.osu.edu> wrote:

> Hi Greg,
> I think whether individuals have a right to critique another culture is
> kind of a straw man argument.  Most thoughtful people I have read do not
> seem to think this, and it creates a sort of bifurcated argument that can
> never be resolved.  I think it gets down to what we see as the reasons
> behind education.  And I think most progressives see the reason behind
> education giving members of a community the tools and information so that
> they can critique their own culture, with every member being an informed
> participant.  I don't think that is necessarily Hegelian - somebody like
> James who did not like Hegel at all would I think agree with the sentiment.
>  What is Hegelian I think is how we see the outcomes - meaning will a more
> informed and savvy populace make better decisions because they are better
> informed.  I do think Hegel's organicism (but not necessarily his
> dialectic) is the power behind this idea. But anyway, a girl can be
> circumcised if that is her choice, but it must be a choice based on having
> enough education to weigh the possibilities and make the decision at that
> point they think is best for them - before they actually take the action.

I think it would take an education of a special kind to go in with ones
eyes open.  There is always some relation to an insufficiently known wider
context that is altered.

Rather the choice seems more redolent of the mistruths sold to those
failing the educational system, that they failed "because they're not smart
enough" -- a mistruth that may be believed and then implemented
(self-sacrifice), just as one could fail by excelling at school without any
means of directing oneself in significant, i.e. theoretical, ways.

In all three circumstances the politics of the situation seems to be
governed by how comfortable the "individual" is (and indeed what that
individual's notion of their individuality is), and whether the dynamics of
cognitive or emotive dissonance will thereafter shape their views -- a
self-censoring act that gives potential for freedom too, i.e. "these issues
are of no concern to me, as they are not part of my culture", which isn't
that far off from sectarianism.  That's another way of saying that
tolerance, in action not passivity, is learning to cope with dissonance
(leading to better understandings and appreciation).

That's another way to look at our various media publications -- not what
they say, but what they occlude, or defuse, for the relief of their
audience, i.e. to read a paper to reinforce a particular filter.

On the politics of dialectics, this article about
Ilyenkov<http://www.aworldtowin.net/resources/Ilyenkov.html>makes a
distinction between dialectical materialsim and material
dialectics.  I guess Michael is using the phrase as a term, rather than the
word meaning pair; defining what is material through what can be
dialectically construed is rather different to exploring dialectics through
material means, which perhaps contributes to an understanding of its abuses
and mis-grasps.


> Michael
> ________________________________
> From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu on behalf of Greg Thompson
> Sent: Mon 7/23/2012 11:47 AM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: Re: [xmca] Taking culture into account/Doing harm?
> Brief note on Shweder's cultural psychology, although he is open to the
> possibility of intra-cultural critique, he is very reticent about the
> possibility of inter-cultural critique - which you might say he actively
> discourages.
> Two notable examples:
> I remember hearing about Brigitta Hauser-Schaublin's dissertation work on a
> culture in Papua New Guinea where women were beaten bloody around the time
> of menstruation. As she presented and expressed sympathy for these women,
> Rick was quick to push her to interrogate those feelings as if they were
> not necessary or appropriate. Among my colleagues who were young grad
> students, it created a sense of shock and awe.
> I had the opportunity to meet Fuambai Ahmadu who wrote a very compelling
> paper on "female circumcision" (aka "female genital mutliatioin" as
> described by the Western feminist movement) that argued that it was
> actually a feminist practice. Fuambai actually had the procedure done as an
> initiation ritual when she was 21 years old. (interesting that this becomes
> a way of taking a cultural practice of an Other culture and rendering it
> intelligible in our own culture - as a ritual of feminist practice).
> So when you read Rick's work, he will always be pushing against cultural
> critique. This is partly due to his training as an anthropologist and
> partly b.c. he is a skeptic whose personal dicta is "if others confirm it,
> deny it; if others deny it, confirm it."
> So if others are pushing for a critique of hegemonic power structure in
> Other cultures, then you can bet that Shweder will be taking a (very
> reasonable) position against those in particular who assume that our
> culture has "higher" values than others.
> I would add that a Marxist perspective could go either way on this matter.
> Marx thought that although the unique values provided by capitalism were
> indeed a step forward (e.g., "equality,"), but they also missed the boat in
> many ways. But following Hegel, it is hard to deny a narrative of the arc
> of progress and a sense of forwardness of our own culture and
> "backwardness" of other cultures (notwithstanding an occasional potentially
> kind word about Others like the Quashees). So I do think that Shweder's
> push-back is extremely useful in this case (in precisely the ways that the
> author of this piece seems to think Vygotsky-inspired cultural psychology
> is bad - but I haven't read that piece...).
> Rushing off to AERA submissions...
> -greg
> On Mon, Jul 23, 2012 at 8:04 AM, Michael Glassman <MGlassman@ehe.osu.edu
> >wrote:
> > You know I read the article and I don't see a Vygotskian approach and the
> > type of cultural psychology/educational approach to be as antithetical as
> > the author supposes.  I guess the first thing I would say is Vygotsky is
> > not necessarily as much of a dialectical materialism and/or Hegelian as
> the
> > author proposes.  I think that was in his background, but from my point
> of
> > view I don't think his goal was to develop a dialectical material
> > educational approach or even psychology.  I don't think he ever had time
> to
> > develop an overarching goal that organize all his ideas.   People keep
> > saying why is Vygotsky so popular and I think the reason is that while he
> > says some amazingly interesting things he is also something of a
> Rorschach
> > test - what people see in him is deeply colored by their own backgrounds
> > and goals.  Just a tangent for a second.  Many writers consider "The
> Great
> > Gatsby" one of the two or three greatest American novels.  Many of us in
> > the US read it in high school.  One day my brother told me, "Read Great
> > Gatsby again, it is a completely different book when you are forty than
> > then you are eighteen."  I resisted but I did, and it was a completely
> > different novel, with different meanings.  Great writer can do that,
> almost
> > form canals through which change course as the rivers of your lives take
> on
> > different flows.  I know you are not supposed to say this, but I have
> read
> > Vygotsky at different times and some of his work has had completely
> > different meanings for me depending on what I was thinking about and who
> I
> > had read recently.  Part of it is because it was in many ways theoriy on
> > the run, sort of like Spinoza to whom Vygotsky is often compared
> (although
> > I still don't see the strong ties).  Spinoza is just a bunch of short
> > aphorisms which can be interpreted in a number of different ways.  But he
> > was writing philosophy while he was trying to survive the inquisition.
> >  Vygotsky was writing theory while trying to survive the rise of
> Stalinism
> > maybe?  It gives his words a dynamic, fluid feel maybe.  Who knows.
> >  Anyway, all this is to say that I think the author takes a very limited
> > view of Vygotsky.
> >
> > But there is perhaps a bigger issue and why I think the author makes a
> > mistake is posing cultural psychology against something like CHAT or
> Dewey.
> >  It is something that has been bothering me since I read Jonathan
> Hiaidt's
> > book.  I read it as part of a class and pretty much all of my students
> were
> > unhappy with the book (as was I) and challenged his conception of
> cultural
> > psychology.  I went back and read Richard Shweder, who was sort of
> Haidt's
> > mentor and I found I wasn't as happy with his idea of cultural psychology
> > as I had been.  Indigenous cultures can help you establish a foothold in
> > learning, a way in I think, but many cultures are not that great
> > (especially in the ways they treat women, female children, and
> historically
> > oppressed groups).  Historical culture is not an absolute good and
> perhaps
> > an important part of education is teaching members of a community,
> children
> > and adult, that they are not trapped by their cultural history, they get
> to
> > choose what they want to keep and what they want to let go of.  I am
> > thinking at this point this is what Vygotsky may have been after in his
> > views on education - that it is supposed to move the locus of control to
> > the community as it is, not as it has developed.
> >
> > Michael
> >
> > ________________________________
> >
> > From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu on behalf of mike cole
> > Sent: Sun 7/22/2012 12:15 PM
> > To: eXtended Mind, Culture,Activity
> > Subject: [xmca] Taking culture into account/Doing harm?
> >
> >
> >
> > The attached article has been hanging around my desktop for some time
> now.
> > It
> > is critical of people like myself who had sought ways in ways to assist
> > kids from
> > non-mainstream cultural communities when they encounter standard
> schooling.
> >
> > At least one of the shoes provided seems to fit. Seems worth reflecting
> on
> > the critique
> > as a whole.
> >
> > Anyone interested?
> >
> > mike
> >
> >
> >
> > __________________________________________
> > _____
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> > xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
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> >
> >
> --
> Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
> Sanford I. Berman Post-Doctoral Scholar
> Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition
> Department of Communication
> University of California, San Diego
> http://ucsd.academia.edu/GregoryThompson
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